When you finish in the top 10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points, you've had a season that qualifies as elite -- certainly a result that the vast majority of competitors would absolutely envy.
And yet, when you finish that well, the fact that you didn't win it all, or at least make it to the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, can be hard to swallow. And chances are pretty good that any driver who makes it inside the top 10 but not the top five had his year undone by just one or two races.
Such was the case for Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in 2015.
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Keselowski, the 2012 series champion, had a solid '15 season, finishing seventh in points. In fact, in four out of the last five seasons, Keselowski finished seventh or better in points, which is an impressive record.
In 2015, Keselowski had just one victory -- a last-lap pass for the win at Auto Club Speedway -- three poles, nine top fives and 22 top 10s. That said, his Penske teammate Joey Logano piled up much bigger numbers with six victories and six poles, 22 top fives and 28 top 10s. And yet when the season was complete, Logano finished just one position ahead of Keselowski.
For better or worse, two races defined Keselowski's season, and they both took place on consecutive fall weekends. At Martinsville Speedway, Keselowski led 143 laps, but on a restart on Lap 435, Keselowski and Matt Kenseth crashed hard.
Kenseth, frustrated over a history of issues with the Penske teammates, came in for repairs and after he went back on track, he deliberately drilled Logano into the wall, earning himself a two-race suspension.
Keselowski, meanwhile, had extensive front-end damage, limping home to a 32nd-place finish.
But the real heartbreaker would come a week later at Texas Motor Speedway, where Keselowski had to win to have a realistic chance of making it to the final round of the Chase.
Everything was solid all weekend at Texas. Keselowski put the No. 2 Penske Ford on the pole and dominated the afternoon, leading 312 of 334 laps in an awesome display of speed.
But in the closing laps, old foe Jimmie Johnson began to run down Keselowski. And after a sensational dog fight back and forth, Johnson made the race-winning pass with just four laps to go.
"I'm not sure exactly how to feel about it at the moment," Keselowski said after the Texas race. "The 48 car (Johnson) had so much speed them last 10 laps. As I sit right now, maybe I'll change my mind. I don't know what I would have done differently or could have done differently."
Keselowski wound up the season finishing ninth at Phoenix International Raceway and third at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was a good end to the season, but Keselowski was hoping for a great one.